February 26, 2012

The cards on the wall

The task card represents what needs to be done.
There are a few types of cards.

The Simple card:
Describes itself, for example, ‘do the dishes’.

The Parent card:
These cards include other tasks that may even be performed by other family members. For example, the math exam task below includes different types of problems that need to be learnt, each as a separate task. When they are completed, only then is the Parent task complete.

The details on the card
A card may include more specific details, such as who is responsible for it, maybe a deadline, and more.

Between you and me - it doesn’t matter. The main thing is that the tasks are visible, and that your kids see their name on the boards, and understand what they need to do. Other than the family, no one needs to understand the board, so put up the cards that make the most sense to you.
Don’t forget though - Keep It Simple. You aren’t running a software project, this is your family.
Here are a few examples of tasks that families have included in their Agile Kids efforts, ranging from the simple ones like ‘brush my teeth’ to the more complicated ones like ‘clean the house’, or ‘plan my birthday’.

Here, the small blue sticker shows the family who owns the task.

Here, you can see a large task broken down into smaller ones.

Here, the colour of the note shows who owns it.

Here, each small coloured note shows the owner.

February 19, 2012

What is it about Agile and Kanban that teaches us and our children how to succeed?

Everything we need to succeed is here: 

1. Agile creates visibility. Visibility in turn creates security and control.
When I see where I’m supposed to go, I feel safe. Imagine you’re driving in the rain, at night. Now imagine you’re driving on a clear sunny day. Which one makes you feel safer?

2. Agile Kids enables you to clearly set challenges.
Our children put up everything on the board. They see what they are up against. It isn’t a vague in their heads. It is there, and belongs to them. They can see what is more and less important, it gives them a sense of control, reduces the confusion and leads them to success. They can also see their progress.
I will really ask my children, what do they intend to do tomorrow, next week or next month. And if you are planning a month in advance, what are you going to do? These tasks will go on the board, and we’ll see progress.

Prioritize your tasks:

This doesn’t mean that we’ll need a board every time we want to challenge ourselves - not at all. In the future, we won’t need the board at all.

3. Challenges according to age and ability
Each child chooses their own tasks, and moves forwards at their own pace. The board belongs to the family, and we each have our own tasks. Danny has tasks that are suitable for a first grader, and 12 year old Lisa already has tasks such as babysitting her brother when Mom is late from work. This way, the success is relative and suitable for each age. On the other hand, we can also see where we can move forwards. We see others’ successes and failures, and the children talk to the parents during the daily or weekly meetings, and they learn from their experiences.

4. The key word here is trust
I am training myself and my children to see what lies ahead. We are training to divide our tasks into doable actions. I am showing them the way. How a task is created, what happens during the progression, and how it ends. The training will make the board obsolete, but the principle remains the same. I experience successes (because I completed tasks), I saw the way, and I learned how to accomplish this.

5. Success is key
I’ll say it again. Children aren’t born with the ability to manage projects. They have to learn how to. They don’t always know how to divide their assignments into tasks, and some learn slower and some learn faster. What’s important is the feeling of success. They don’t need large rewards to feel they were successful - all they need is a smile and to succeed at their homework. That’s enough for them.

6. Listening
Listening to the children and listening to ourselves. It’s vital to succeed. Listening to what they have to say about their tasks during the daily meetings, giving them a place to be heard and to express themselves. When I speak, I’m learning and developing. When people listen to me and react to what I say, that strengthens the learning a thousand fold.

7. Empowerment
Setting these small goals, even from a young age, and enabling the child to choose their own tasks, is the basis for empowerment (weve written more about it here). And empowerment is one of the best ways to succeed.

8. The daily family pulse
The daily meetings and the order they bring to the house, send out a message. A message of doing, of support from others when I get stuck. I personally believe, that without these values, luck will be a major factor in our future successes, not our own actions or initiatives.

9. Initiative as a state of mind
Initiative is part of empowerment. The children are encouraged to take the initiative. Think of tasks, ask for help from others, and make things move when they get stuck. This isn’t just encouraged - it becomes a state of mind.

10. The state of mind and messages that come from the family and the house affect your children outside as well
For example, a singer’s son can become a singer with less effort than others. It’s not just the voice - you have to think like an artist as well, to know how to express your feelings, create, and so on, which is something that the child is immersed in at home every day. The same goes for doctors, or business people.
Now, just imagine that you immerse your children in empowerment. Every day, things that come naturally to them, will affect them in the future. Everyone agrees that it doesn’t matter HOW you raise your kids, it affects them a whole lot more than any courses they might take in the future. So isn’t it in our best interests to make sure they get confidence, empowerment, and the ability to follow tasks through?

Want to know how? Read the AgileKids book, and of course, get the latest updates from this blog.

February 12, 2012

Another way to manage ongoing tasks using the task board

This Post is posted after an interesting question raise in one of the LinkedIn discussions (see below the Q and the A :))
Anyway, just for you Greg, here is an example.

·         In the above board you can see that the kids decide to write the tasks instead of using sticky notes.
·         They divided their day into three time frames: morning, noon and evening.
·         They assigned ongoing relevant tasks for each time frame.
·         In the daily gathering, they follow those tasks along with other tasks that are not ongoing (and placed in the upper section of the task board which is not shown in this picture).

Greg Cohen • Avi, I already use a task/schedule board at home for the adult. But curious to hear more on how your children use it. It sounds like a task on your board is "brush teeth". Does your child take the brush teeth card from To Do and move it to In Progress then go to the bathroom to brush teeth and then returns to the board to mark it Done? And then the next day you move it back to the To Do? Is that correct?

And how does time get managed? Since at least my children are always happy to extend their "work day" and stay up late. Yet tasks like brushing teeth must get done at the end of each day.

And are any leisure items, like play, placed on the board?



Answer :
These are really important issues you are raising. We address most of them in the agile Kids  book.
We need to remember that the agile implementation inside our family is mach simple than in the workplace. There are many ways to visualize the time frame. Some of them is just drawing the line with a time stamp, sometimes we just write it on the tasks. And sometimes we just prepare a list of issues to be dome during a specific time frame (morning, evening and such). Our next post deals exactly with that, but it is only one example. (I will publish it later today or early tomorrow).
What holds a significant value is the visualization. This itself is very helpful with the kids and help them with organization and planning issues. The parents actions will be to take those things into a discussion. The core of the agile kids is the dialog. Once we visualize, we can scope the dialog over the important things during the daily gathering  (in your case it’s the time frame and in other cases there may be something else). We can then  discuss the things and we can make sure our boundaries and our rules are followed and accept.
 At the beginning, the kids did take tasks by task and performed it. It was fun! And it was technical actionso the kids will get use to the idea of “this is my task, I need to perform and I am in control”.  we do suggest we do it with smaller children and in the initial states of implementing the agile into our home. Later on, the ongoing tasks just disappear. They are already in order and do not need special attention any more. Then, other issues raise. Mature agile kids, does not need to move stickies any more, I see they usually do it just before the daily gathering.
Any way, thanks for a great comment .I will take your comment into my blog as well 

February 05, 2012

Balancing the task list & Creating a task board for 10 and 12 years old kids

1. Presenting the idea: 
What’s the biggest problem with kids? That they always forgot to do their chores, and we parents find that we have to act as their memory, and constantly remind them to perform their tasks.
When we keep on reminding the kids of what they need to do, we also become the task  owner. Want proof? Well, If we aren’t around, are the tasks completed?
It’s not easy, by the way, to come home from work every day and immediately start talking about what hasn’t been done today. ‘Why is your bag in the middle of the room?’, ‘Why haven’t you had a bath yet?’, and so on.
And along comes Agile for Kids.
When we introduced Agile for Kids, this family children didn’t want to go along with the sticky notes, but they immediately understood the problems we were talking about. So we went along with them. After all they are the ones that are going to own the tasks and perform them later on this week.

2. Cleaning the old white board – just for fun


3. Balancing the task list:
After the board was cleaned, we asked the kids to write down all their weekly tasks.
Each kid read out one task, and the other balanced his list accordingly. Of course there were tasks they missed, tasks they didn’t agree on, or tasks that their father wanted to add (such as, ‘Don’t forget to take your house key with you’). This is a real discussion, and it is the heart of the Agile Kids method.
Finally, they agreed on one task list. This will be our backlog.
The real purpose of this exercise is, of course, to have them write down and own their tasks, and remember what they have to do.

4. Gathering ideas to build the board:
As they didn’t want to use sticky notes, we made sure they plan the board as they saw fit. Of course we insisted that they do it together.
Always keep in mind that our real goal is discussion, and to make sure they know what they are supposed to do. It is their board, which means that they are accountable to create it as they see fit. Yes, as parents we can recommend some changes, and we will review the board during the daily meetings and encourage them to improve it.
But we must remember: The board belongs to our kids.


5. Building the board:
Remember, the kids do this, this is their board, their responsibility and they are the ones who are accountable for completing the tasks. This is exactly why they are the ones who need to build it as they see fit.

Above you can see the discussion over placing the tasks on the board and the best place to place the task board.